Restoring and managing Kirkharle: a perpective from owner John Anderson
Restoration of the barns
It was in 1997 that we started the long process of preparing plans and seeking planning permission to develop the Courtyard; initially, this only involved the creation of one workshop to accommodate Stephen Robinson Gay, a local cabinet maker who had outgrown his premises nearby. However as matters progressed, a Coffee House was planned, only to be joined shortly afterwards by a Jam and Chutney maker and Denis Kilgallon, a ceramic sculptor. No sooner that they were in at the beginning of 2000, when I was approached by a number of other small artisans for workshops; with the Stone Barn in an advanced state of dereliction and recognising it had either to be demolished or restored, I decided on the latter; this was occupied in 2005. Stephen by this time had outgrown his original premises and wished to move to bigger premises; with the Coffee House also requiring more of a preparations kitchen to cater for growing numbers, I took the decision to convert one of the modern cattle courts. Though still of use agriculturally, I had come to realise that farming and tourism don’t make for easy bed fellows. The fallout from the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic, when we nearly had to shut the whole complex, by virtue of my surrounding neighbours’ stock being culled, still haunted me. I also realised that 25 ton articulated lorries at harvest time being loaded with grain were not exactly conducive to our visitors’ safety. With that shed now developed, this only leaves the other half still in its original state; should demand exist and financial resources allow, it would be good to complete the Courtyard by developing this building as well.